By Kenneth Jukpor
Nigerian ports recorded another feat this week as the the biggest helicopter in the country was received and coupled inside the Ports and Terminal Multiservices Limited (PTML) Terminal at the Tin Can Island Port (TCIP), Lagos.
The helicopter, a Sikosky S-92 was acquired by Caverton Helicopters Nigeria Limited, shipped from the United States of America to Apapa, Lagos.
On Thursday December 31st, 2019, the cargo arrived onboard a vessel; Grande Morocco on 19th of December into PTML Terminals Lagos.
Speaking with MMS Plus on this development, an Assistant General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications at Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mr. Ibrahim Nasiru said the Authority was excited at the development even though it wasn’t notified promptly about the company’s plans.
His words: “NPA is delighted to be able to assist in the speedy evacuation of that aircraft. This shows a level of ease of doing business, especially when you note the fact that the company didn’t reach NPA on time about the helicopter.”
While maritime stakeholders have described this as being in line with the Federal Government’s Ease of Doing Business at the port, aviation experts have urged airliners to see the feat as evidence that they could convey some cargoes trapped at the seaports.
Noting that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to less passenger traffic for airlines, some experts posit that the challenge of lack of finance could be dissipated if airlines turn to seaport cargoes which would always be available.
Speaking with our correspondent, the Secretary General of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative and Chief Executive Officer, Centurion Securities, Group Captain John Ojikutu (Rtd) admonished airlines to look out for opportunities in cargo business for their survival.
According to him, about 100million metric tonnes pass through the seaports unlike the airport that records 40,000 metric tonnes.
“Today from FAAN’s record the cargo traffic is about 40,000 metric tonnes compared to the sea ports. Why can’t the airlines tap into that sector? They don’t need to look for one percent because only 0.005% is about 500,000 metric tonnes. This will change cargo business at the airports”
“If airlines look into the road transportation cargoes and tap into it by 0.005%, they would multiply their earnings in air cargo freight by over 10 times. They will make a minimum 50 billion every year which automatically translates into about 25% of what they were making before the pandemic. This venture would reduce the effect of the COVID-19 on their businesses” he said.
Also speaking with our correspondent, the National President of Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON), Mr. Frank Ogunojemite admonished airlines and ground handling companies to look into improving cargo businesses as alternative to help the industry recover from the huge losses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Corroborating Ojikutu’s views, Ogunojemite stated that airlines should evaluate ways that they can expand into cargo services to maximize revenue generation.
According to him, airports and airlines must recognize that cargoes will represent a much more important revenue opportunity, going forward.
Speaking with journalists shortly before the take off of the helicopter to Ikeja airport, Chief Engineer for Caverton Helicopters Nigeria Limitec Mr. Sani Muhammed Amodu, said the helicopter was the biggest in the country.
According to him, after getting the necessary approvals, all the imported components were brought together and assembled right within the port.
“The helicopter was shipped from the United States to Lagos, but unfortunately because of the size, we could not take it out of the port to our facility because of the safety aspect of it, so what we did was that, instead of taking it out and going through the risk of the road, we decided to couple it here, following all the safety precautions as recommended by both the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) as well as NPA.”
“We are very pleased with the support given to us by the terminal operator and the NPA on this feat”